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KNOCKING ON THE WHEELER'S front door, Cassie Harrington stood—rocking back and forth in her beat-up black converse

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KNOCKING ON THE WHEELER'S front door, Cassie Harrington stood—rocking back and forth in her beat-up black converse. After a moment, the door opened, revealing Mrs.Wheeler with baby Holly supported on her side. Silently scoffing, the mother spoke, "Can I help you, Cassandra?"

"I was wondering if I could speak to Mike," Cassie spoke, almost so quietly that she couldn't even her her own words.

Looking the girl up and down, Mrs.Wheeler replied, "I don't think that would be the best idea. Mike is in a tough mental state right now and I don't want you making it any worse."

"If you could just tell him I'm here..." Cassie trailed off, looking down at her scraped-up knees. "I just need to see him."

Mrs.Wheeler hesitated, slightly bouncing Holly as she turned around, shouting, "Mike, come upstairs! Someone is here to see you!"

There was a loud groan followed by a series of footsteps coming from the basement door, "Mom, I said I didn't want to see any—"

Mike paused, gazing over at the girl standing in his doorway—dressed in jean shorts and a red sweater. Gulping, Mike turned, "What are you doing here?"

"I wanted to talk to you," muttered Cassie, tucking a stray piece of hair behind her ear.

"Wanna come downstairs?" asked Mike, shoving his hands into his pockets.

"Sure," said Cassie, glancing once more at Mrs.Wheeler before passing the two and making her way down to the basement.

Once the two kids were downstairs, Mike turned to Cassie, "Seriously, why did you come here?"

Not being able to think clearly, Cassie stepped towards Mike, pulling him into a hug. Hesitating, Mike wrapped his arms around her shoulders and pulled her closer. Despite the heaviness in his stomach, it went away with the feeling of her body against his.

Sinking into his warmth, Cassie realized that she had missed out on so much by refusing to be cared for. Breathing in the scent of cinnamon, Cassie relaxed.

"I thought you hated being touched," Mike whispered in her ear.

"Yeah, me too," Cassie replied, sighing and releasing herself from his grip, looking up at him.

"How have you been doing?"

"Not good," Cassie spoke, turning to face Eleven, who sat in the fort, playing with Mike's walkie-talkie. "El, what are you doing?"

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